Poetry by Elizabeth Johnston Ambrose
Rattle, February 2022
Chapbook, 44pp; $6
Rattle Chapbook Prize Winner
How does a daughter emerge whole from an upbringing saturated with religious fundamentalism? And if not whole, how does she piece together some kind of coherent self out of fragmented half-truths? The eighteen narrative poems in Imago, Dei bear witness to the emotional and psychological weight amassed from a girlhood fraught with vexed messages about what it means to be “good.” Narrated in third-person, lyric vignettes, these are poems about a daughter’s desire to be the son her well-meaning, but deeply damaged father thinks he needs; about an adolescent world filled with cute boys, predatory church leaders, Lakes of Fire, and broken girls who beg to be reborn; about the bad-girl specters of Eve, Jezebel, and Delilah that haunt her into adulthood and wreak havoc on her intimate relationships; about dirty dancing, Bible study, Lacanian theory, and crying after sex; and about what happens when a recovering evangelical becomes a mother to her own daughters.